Our Visit to St. Peter’s Church

We piled into the van after breakfast and headed for St. Peter’s church in Mutare about 9 AM. Tom and Tracey Sarimana met us there and reserved the first two front row pews for us. This service is entirely in Shona, so they had church members sit between members of our group to interpret all that was happening for us. The choir led a processional into the church, singing as they marched in. Then they sang the first of several choir pieces scattered through the service, harmonizing beautifully without any accompaniment except for traditional gourds shaken by several choir members. One of the pieces they sang was an original composition written by their conductor, titled “Celebration!” It was a lively piece in honor of Bishop Ralph Dodge after he passed away in 2008. It was sung with great verve, and everyone in the congregation loved it, including us. Music is a large part of every Shona service, with singing before and after congregational and pastoral prayers, in addition to the lively choir  numbers. The main message of the morning was delivered powerfully by a guest female preacher, and the service concluded at 1 PM with the singing choir leading the recessional out of the church. The overall service was a rich experience, as it always is in Zimbabwe.

After the service we were greeted by many well-wishers, including a few older members who remembered hearing Bishop Dodge when they were youngsters in school. Then we headed back to Old Mutare, about ten miles away. Unfortunately, our van broke down before we got very far, so Emmanuel hailed a smaller combibus to carry us back to campus. That alone was a unique experience that everyone will remember. After a good late lunch at the Ubuntu Center, we packed our suitcases and boarded a new van to take us to Harare. A beautiful sunset graced the conclusion of the day just a bit before we arrived at the Holiday Inn in Harare where we’ll stay for the night. Tomorrow we go to Victoria Falls!